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Music 6: History of Electronic Music

Fall 2018
Tues/Thurs 11-12:20
CPMC 127

This is a course covering significant milestones in the development of electronic music through lectures and listening sessions. Each week's topic is addressed on both experimental and mainstream grounds. There are two in-class tests, a final exam, and three one-page writing assignments; more details about assignments will be given in class. Listening assignments are linked here. Assignments and tests count 15% each toward your grade; the final counts 25%. Grades are posted through TritonED (


Paper 1 Topic, due Oct 18

Week 0: Intro

Methods for Listening
Methods for Listening (from class)

Conlon Nancarrow: Player Piano Study no. 40 (1969-77)
Maryanne Amacher: Head Rhythm 1 and Plaything 2 (1999)
Pauline Oliveros: The difference between hearing and listening
Sachiko M, Toshimaru Nakamura, and Otomo Yoshihide: Good Morning, Good Night (2004)
Lear: Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, Panaiotis: Deep Listening (1989)

Björk: Medúlla (2004)
Kraftwerk: We are the Robots (1979)
Autechre: EP7 (1999)
R We Who Are We: R We Who Are We (2014)

Week 1: Electronic Instruments

Thaddeus Cahill:Telharmonium (1897)
Optophonic Piano: Vladimir Rossiné (1916)
Theremin: Léon Theremin (1919(
Clara Rockmore
Matryomin ensemble 'Da'
Rhythmicon: Léon Theremin/Henry Cowell (1930)
Oramics: Daphne Oram (1957)
RCA Mark 2: Vladimir Ussachevsky/Otto Luening (1957)
First computer to sing: Max Matthews/John Kelly/Carol Lockbaum (1961)
Mini MIDI Mixtape: Parlour Tapes+
Voyager: George Lewis (1984-86)
Percussion + Guitar : Bryan Jacobs

Erykah Badu: Incense , Live
The Beach Boys (not a theremin)
Organelle Rhythmicon
Ondes Martenot: Radiohead
Modern version: Seaboard
Wendy Carlos: Switched on Bach (1968)
Suzanne Ciani: GE dishwasher commercial, Coca-cola Pop & Pour
Minimoog: Kraftwerk Autobahn Bana Haffar: Modular synth
Wendy Carlos: A Clockwork Orange Soundtrack (March)
Stevie Wonder: Race babbling
Herbie Hancock: Tell everybody
Daft Punk: Get Lucky
Roland TR-808:
Online version
Marvin Gaye: Sexual Healing
Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Kanye West: 808s & Heartbreak

Links for sections
How the telharmonium works
Modern take on telharmonium
how it works
Rolling Stones [Mainstream]
Daphne Oram/Oramics: album [Experimental]
Bryan Jacobs: Noonah with Balloon and Air Compressor [Experimental]

Week 2: Radio/DJ

Important DJs [Mainstream]:
Charles 'Doc' Herrold
Dr. Elman B Meyers/Sybil True
Martin Block:: Make Believe Ballroom
Al Benson
Alan 'Moondog' Freed:: The Alan Freed Story
Jocko Henderson
John Peel
Tom Donahue

Radio art [Experimental]:
Vladimir Ussachevsky Wireless Fantasy
John Cage Radio Music
Wave Farm: Center for artists experimenting with broadcast media and the airwaves
Devil’s Music: Nicolas Collins
description of piece
audio of piece
AM_on_FM/sine_wave: Ida Hirsenfelder
description of piece
audio of piece

Week 3: Amplification/Effects


Bing Crosby (first to use live amplification for vocals)
Learn to Croon
Björk Medulla

David Behrman Wavetrain
Steve Reich Pendulum Music



Ike Turner/Jackie Brenston (1951): Rocket 88
Howlin' Wolf: Moanin' at Midnight The Johnny Burnett Trio: Lonesome Train (NO distortion, and introduced by Alan Freed!)
The Johnny Burnett Trio: Train Kept a Rollin' (YA distortion)
Link Wray: Rumble
Marty Robbins (1961): Don't Worry (bass guitar distortion, led to pedal!)
The Rolling Stones: Satisfaction (for making guitar distortion famous)
Jimi Hendrix: Are you Experienced
Please find the below links here
Robert Johnson: Crossroads Blues
Cream: Crossroads Blues [live recording]
Radiohead: There There [guitar bend trick in intro]

The Books: The Animated Description of Mr Maps


[Tape Delay] Elvis Presley (1954): That's Alright (Mama)
[Flanging] The Beatles: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
[Chorus (+ fun synthy Distortion)] Beyonce: Radio
Please find the below examples here
The Edge: It Might Get Loud [movie segment, shows his rig]
Queen: Brighton Rock [starting 3:10]


[Delay time gradually shortens from beginning to end] Georg Friedrich Haas: Ein Schattenspiel
[Flanging + Chorus] Marnie Stern: Ruler
[Chorus/Flanging/Comb Filter + Delay (@ 3:05/5:47) + VOCODER! throughout] Laurie Anderson: Oh Superman

Other effects

Please find the below examples here
Hendrix: Fire [live at Woodstock-- wahwah through feedback]
Third Eye Blind: Jumper
Mu-tron: Envelope-controlled filtering
Zappa: Stinkfoot [guitar solo 2:12]
Edie Brickell: What I am [guitar solo 2:00]
Primus: Trouble [all through it]
Tape-based Octave-Doubler
Hendrix: hendrix-purple-album.mkv 1:10
Vocals-- Crosby Stills Nash & Young: Our House
Guitar and vocals— Marnie Stern: Ruler
(also shortening delay times in intro and chorus effect)
Kraftwerk: The Robots
Donna Summer: I Feel Love
[echo effect in synth, panned hard left/right dry sound/echoed sound (wet)]
Justin C. Meyers: Struggle Artist
Example of using material to create an effect [tape dissolves over time]
William Basinski: The Disintegration Loops